Can you believe it’s been just two weeks since the Raiders 2017 season ended? It feels like a lifetime ago with how quickly things have moved with the coaching staff since then. But, for real, two weeks ago we were ringing in the New Year and the first day of the Raiders 2018 offseason.
I didn’t forget about my season B&B wrap. And with the new coaching staff filling up and hope on the horizon, it might make it easier to stomach their 6-10 campaign which ended with a 4-game losing streak.
What can I say about Mack that hasn’t already been said many times before? Not much. He’s still far and away the best player on this Raiders team. Even with his lowest sack totals since his rookie season, he still put up double digits (10.5) and was a force against the run as evidenced by the best tackle numbers of his career (78 combined). He was named a Baller nine times this past season including Top Baller four times.
He had some good games early in the season, but really turned it on over the second half. Following his ejection and suspension midseason, he took his play to another level over the final seven games, surpassing 100 yards twice and averaging 4.69 yards per carry for 568 yards on the ground. It helped that the team finally started to give him the ball. He went from getting under 11 carries per game over the first eight games, to over 17 carries per game the final 7 to finish with 891 yards and 7 touchdowns and surpassing 10,000 career rushing yards.
The 49ers did the Raiders such a solid in releasing Bowman. They had found their new young middle linebacker in Reuben Foster – a guy many thought the Raiders should have drafted – so in order to give him his shot to start and Bowman his chance to start somewhere, they released him. He caught on in Oakland, giving the Raiders their first real middle linebacker in a very long time. Bowman was a Godsend for this team, leading them in tackles for nine of the ten games he was on the team, including his first start which came after three practices. In just ten games he would finish as the team’s leading tackler. That’s quite an accomplishment.
As upset as he was when Ken Norton Jr was fired after week 11, he should be pretty pleased with the results. He had been a Baller three times over the first nine games, then in the six games post-Norton, he was a Baller four times, including three-consecutive games immediately after Norton’s exit and was Top Baller twice. Of his 8.0 sacks on the season, 5.5 came over that same six-game stretch.
TJ Carrie – The most consistent corner the Raiders had last season. While Sean Smith was struggling early and David Amerson was injured late, Carrie was steady as a starter and slot corner.
Marquette King – Was on a tear early in the season, cooled off due in part to a groin strain, and never quite got it back. Still finished among the league’s better punters.
Rodney Hudson – Struggled with the rest of the line in run blocking early. Got better late in the season and was his usual outstanding pass blocker.
Jared Cook — After a strong first nine games, he faded down the stretch, but still finished as the Raiders leading receiver, catching 54 passes for 688 yards with the third best yards per catch average (12.7) on the team.
Denico Autry – Led the NFL with seven passes batted down at the line. Also was third on the team with 5.0 sacks which was a career high for him.
Nicholas Morrow – Was a great story as an undrafted rookie out of Division II Greenville. Became a solid starter on the weakside late in the season. The Raiders may have found a real gem in Morrow.
John Pagano – The improvement on the defense under Pagano was practically night and day at times. The Raiders set a record with no interceptions over their first ten games. Pagano takes over, they get their first interception of the season. Quarterback pressure also improved considerably.